On This Day in Rock & Roll History: Thanksgiving

As I was listening to Q104.3’s countdown of the greatest 1043 classic rock songs of all time, which they do each year around Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to take a twist on this recurring feature of the blog.

Following are some events in rock history that happened on Thanksgiving throughout the decades:

Thanksgiving 1966 (Nov 24): The Beatles go into the studio and devote an entire session to recording John Lennon’s gem Strawberry Fields Forever. It came after John, Paul, George and Ringo took a break following their decision to stop touring. The song was supposed to be included on the band’s next album, which would become Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Instead, it was released as a single in February 1967, together with Penny Lane. Both tunes were also included on the B-side (1967 singles) of Magical Mystery Tour, the soundtrack to the 1967 film of the same name.

Thanksgiving 1967 (Nov 23): The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, The Move, The Nice, The Outer Limits, The Eire Apparent and Amen Corner play their seventh night at the Sophia Gardens Pavilion in Cardiff, Wales, UK. The show was part of a 16-date tour these artists performed together.

Thanksgiving 1969 (Nov 27): The Rolling Stones play the first of four shows at New York City’s Madison Square Garden during their 1969 North American tour. Altogether, about 55,000 people saw the Stones over the four nights. It was the band’s first U.S. tour since July 1966 and the inaugural with Mick Taylor who had replaced Brian Jones in June that year. Shortly thereafter (July 3, 1969), Jones passed away under somewhat mysterious circumstances at the age of 27.

Thanksgiving 1974 (Nov 28): John Lennon joins Elton John on stage in a surprise guest appearance at Madison Square Garden. Previously, Lennon promised John he would join him, if Whatever Gets You Thru the Night, which featured John on piano and backing vocals, would hit the top of the charts – it did and was Lennon’s only solo No. 1 in the U.S. during his lifetime! In addition to the song, they played I Saw Her Standing There and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Only 10 days earlier, John had released a single with a cover version of Lucy, which featured Lennon on guitar and backing vocals under the pseudonym Dr. Winston O’Boogie. The Madison Square Garden performance with John would be Lennon’s last concert appearance. Following his death, John wrote a moving tribute song titled Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny).

Thanksgiving 1976 (Nov 25): The Last Waltz, the final concert of The Band, is held at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The epic show featured more than a dozen high-caliber special guests, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Ringo Starr, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ronnie Wood and Eric Clapton, among others. Martin Scorsese filmed the event and together with The Band’s lead guitarist, Robbie Robertson, turned it into a documentary. Released in 1978, the film has been hailed by many critics as one of the best rock concert movies ever. But The Band’s drummer Levon Helm, in his 1993 autobiography, claimed that Scorsese and Robertson (the film’s producer) essentially portrayed the band as Robertson’s sidemen.




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